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Lyme residents must protect town centre wood
LYME residents have been called upon to 'step up' and protect the town's 'green lung'.
Councillors have warned that it is up to residents to make sure Whistler's Wood is protected for future generations.
It comes as the town council's planning and highways committee opposes plans to build two eco homes in the Pound Street wood.
Neighbours and other residents went to last week's meeting to voice their fears for the future of the green area.
Owner Quentin Craven and architect Stuart Case said the development would ensure the 'long-term preservation of the trees' through the setting up of a trust.
Mr Case said at the meeting: “The only reason I'm standing here as an old Lyme person is to make sure that these trees stay there and I am sure that these sustainable houses are the best way to do this.”
Councillors did not agree and backed the objectors by recommending refusal of the plans.
Coun Owen Lovell said: “Trees and houses don't mix.
“If the town wants to protect its 'green lung' or piece of woodland, then the best course of action is a trust that will take care of that.”
A previous planning application to build two low-energy chalets was turned down by district planners in 2009.
Coun Lovell said: “I'm minded to go with what the council proposed last time this came forward. That is for refusal because I don't believe that long term the trees will be secure.
“It's up to the town and people that have an interest in this that the woodland is protected.”
Committee chairman Coun Anita Williams felt the site was too small for the houses proposed.
“I struggle to see how they could be described as chalets,” she said.
The trust proposed by Mr Craven would include the owners of the houses and three local members with an interest in conservation.
Coun Williams said the trust would legally struggle to protect trees in future if they are posing a danger to the houses.
“I share the concerns of the conflict between trees and houses,” she said.
“I think if the woodland is going to remain there and the town values it as they say they do, then someone needs to step up and protect it.”
Neighbour Ian Chivers, who lives in Rose Hill next to the woodland, said he has twice offered to buy the land, although it was 'significantly less' than what Mr Craven could make by developing it.
He added: “My sole purpose is to prevent the properties and the only way I can do that is to either own that or to provide funds to the Lyme Regis Society to maintain it as such.”
The meeting also heard from neighbour and artist Hugh Dunford Wood, who said the houses would be 'shoehorned' into a limited space, botanist Sir Ghillean Prance who said Whistler's Wood is a 'haven for biodiversity', and Francis Whistler who said the homes do not have a 'sustainable future'.